I'd like to address a common cliche people say. They say it to those who just experienced a break up the most, but it's said to lots of other people as well. It's come to my attention due to several people around me experiencing relationship woes, and their friends all leave comments on their statuses and pictures "You should never change yourself for anyone, they should love you exactly as you are!"
That's half true.
Yes, they should love you exactly as you are. But people, this is LIFE. Love is NOT the all-conquering power in the world. Determination is. And love is a two-way (or more for those poly readers of mine, I suppose?) street. Yes, Alan loves me exactly as I am, and we have had lots of conversations about behaviors and habits we both have that irritate the other. But we had to make a decision about those behaviors. Does Alan's nagging about my cluttered lifestyle bother me enough to break off the relationship? Of course not. Does my cluttered lifestyle bother Alan enough to break off the relationship? No, so we continue on as we are.
But there ARE behaviors that we have both had to compromise and learn to change. Alan has had some especially rough growing pains over our 3 years together, as I am his first truly long term relationship. There were lots of near misses and nasty bumps along the way, and he had to learn not only how to be in a relationship at all, but how to be in one with ME. I'm a tad high-maintenance and demanding and came with a bit more baggage than most. Poor guy! But he took it all in stride, he learned, he adapted and changed his behaviors, and if you met the Alan I met 3 years ago, you'd never know it was the same guy! The same can be said of me! I've become a more responsible, attentive, and considerate person thanks to Alan.
Now, a lot of people like to make the distinction "I'm making these changes for me, not for the other person." Let's all quit lying to ourselves about this right now. If we wanted to make those changes for just us, then why the hell are we dating and marrying anyways??? We're making those changes to make us a more complete person to make us more appealing to a possible mate. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. We learn from failed relationships and should often take some time after them to reflect on what went wrong, how we can avoid it in the future, what mistakes we made, what qualities in the other person we didn't find desirable, and what changes to make. We must GROW to continue on our search for happiness.
Now I know some people will say they are perfectly happy without a mate, and you know what, good for you. But the majority of us want a mate. Either to spend our lives with someone we love, to start a family, to find financial stability, whatever. Or just to have a steady partner in bed. Whatever the reason, most of us want some kind of mate. And in order to find happiness with a mate, we have to make ourselves "mate-able." And that means change.
And change is GOOD. Even if it's the wrong change, you can't learn from making the right choices all the time. Make the wrong change, and be like "OH SHIT that was.... that was just NOT the right path man." And then make another change. "Oh for fucks sake. Not door number 2 apparently." Until you get it right.
And finally, get the right tools. This is so important.
This often means stepping outside your comfort zone. If there is a need for it, see a counselor. Or get couples counseling. This isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of willingness to learn, willingness to make the changes needed to keep the relationship with the one you love more than anything. Don't make excuses, make time.
Or maybe the tools are something as simple as learning to let go a little. Or learning to cook (heh..... I'm pretty slow on that one), or learning to play a video game with your significant other. But if you need help with learning those things, seek it! Talk to a professional, OR talk to your friends. Sometimes your friends have a wealth of wisdom or experiences that might be valuable to you. Even if it means learning from them what not to do! Or both. But don't hide in your hole, don't be ashamed of relationship troubles. We all have them. Alan and I are a perfect match, but we are by no means perfect. We're human and we argue. Maybe a lot. Maybe a normal amount. Who knows, and who cares besides us? But bet your ass I go to my friends about our problems. I get advice, ideas, and perspective.
Take this to heart.